International supermodel and Achievement for All Ambassador, David Gandy, and Film and TV star, Lennie James have joined forces with sports teams, authors, organisations, parents, carers and education settings across the UK to close the book on social inequality as they support the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge starting this week.

More than 300,000 children and young people in schools, homes, early years settings and libraries across the UK have signed up for award-winning education charity, Achievement for All’s, biggest literacy challenge yet, which seeks to ignite a love of reading among all children and young people as they read for 100 million minutes.

Starting on World Book Day (Thursday 1st March), the Challenge, which is backed by main partner Book People and supported by a host of organisations including West Ham United FC, Parentkind, Albion in the Community, Teach First, Reading Chest, BoogieMites, Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL), Mindful Life Journeys and NAHT Edge, will bring books to life and highlight the world and possibilities that literacy unlocks, in the quest to build brighter futures for children and young people.

Touching on the impact reading had on his life, supporter of the campaign and star of The Walking Dead, Lennie James, said: “I am an actor and a writer, which is about a million miles away from what I thought I’d be when I was growing up. Reading, in large part, made it all possible.

“Reading opened my mind to the possibilities beyond what was expected of someone who looked like me and was from where I was from. Reading plays, books and scripts set me to dreaming and made me brave enough to try to live out my dreams.”

The challenge follows new data from The National Literacy Trust[1], which found that children born into communities with the most serious literacy challenges – who are more likely to live in deprived areas, do worse at school, be less financially well-off and have poorer health – have some of the lowest life expectancies in England.

Research from the Fair Education Alliance also revealed that that up to three in five children from socio-economic disadvantage leave primary school without achieving the expected standard of reading, with the effect on their self-confidence and job opportunities long-lasting.

Speaking about social mobility and the importance of literacy, David Gandy, international supermodel and Achievement for All Ambassador, said: “No one should have their dreams and aspirations confined because of their background or circumstances. Yet, we face a stark problem in this country where children and young people, particularly those that are vulnerable to underachievement, face futures with limited opportunities.

“It can be easy to judge a book by its cover, but having good literacy skills and being able to express yourself opens doors, unlocks your imagination and helps you to realise your ambitions no matter who you are or where you come from. I am proud to be an ambassador for Achievement for All and I hope that as many children and young people get involved in the 100 Million Reading Challenge as possible so we can smash the target and support all children, particularly reluctant readers, to find enjoyment in reading in all its forms.”

Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO at Achievement for All, said: "Literacy levels are one of the greatest drivers of social inequality in the UK today. We know that reading books, newspapers and visiting libraries regularly has a huge impact on young people’s life chances, so, if we want to inspire a generation of lifetime readers, then we have to ignite a love of reading among all children and young people and keep the flame alive throughout their education and long into their lives. It’s wonderful to have such great support for our initiative and I urge everyone to think about how they can get involved too.”

In a bid to get more books into homes and schools across the UK, the families and settings that participate in the challenge and clock the highest average number of minutes will receive up to £5,000 worth of book titles from main partner Book People.

Sarah Walden, Group Buying & Merchandising Director from leading bookseller, Book People, said: “We are delighted to sponsor Achievement for All’s 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge. Spreading a love of reading and developing literacy amongst children and young people is a cause close to our hearts. We’re proud to be part of this incredible initiative to encourage children and young people to read as many minutes as possible and look forward to donating book prizes to the worthy winners.”

In addition, there are a host of other literacy-related prizes from hampers filled with popular toys, games and books from Child’s Play, fantastic high-quality literacy resources from Teaching Times, sticker and prize packs from the Sticker Factory and free membership to Skoolbo and The Reading Chest!

The 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge Week, launching on World Book Day (1st March) and running until the 9th March, kick-starts a month of activity and events across the country to inspire all children, young people and their families, including the most reluctant of readers and those that are vulnerable to underachievement.

Urging families, schools and settings to get involved, author and former Children’s Laureate, Anne Fine, OBE FRSL, saidRope in everyone you possibly can for the 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge. There is no better way in which a young person can spend time. You only get one life of your own. Books open the doors to everyone else’s experience. Reading enriches, and there is nothing more dismal than a bare, unfurnished mind.”

Achievement for All is a leading not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with early years settings, schools and colleges, improving outcomes for all children and young people vulnerable to underachievement regardless of background, challenge or need.

To register your place and for further information on the challenge and it’s supporters, please visit